A popular element of the Barney Bubbles exhibition within the recent graphics/music group show White Noise: Quand Le Graphisme Fait Du Bruit was the cubicle housing designer Kate Moross’s Barney Bubbles video triptych.
Archive for the ‘Light shows’ Category
With the legacy of Situationism the subject of a couple of posts on my blog, it seems timely to point up Barney Bubbles’ inclusion of frames from Christopher Grey’s Leaving The 20th Century: The Incomplete Work Of The Situationist International in his slide-show for Hawkwind’s post-punk offshoot Hawklords.
Designs by Barney Bubbles feature in three exhibitions which have opened in London this week.
Above are 24 of the Crown wallpaper variations of Bubbles sleeve design for the 1979 album Do It Yourself By Ian Dury & The Blockheads, as featured in the Donald Smith-curated group show Ideal Home at Chelsea Space.
Below is sneaky iPhone shot of Bubbles’ extraordinary design for Armed Forces by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, which was released the same year as Do It Yourself and appears in the V&A’s big autumn show Postmodernism: Style & Subversion 1970-1990.
And above is a shot of Bubbles’ Elvis Costello poster for the 1977 Live Stiffs tour, which looms large in the subterreanean Old Vic Tunnels, venue for Stuart Semple’s exhibition Mindful Of Art, which is in aid of mental health charity Mind. The poster was sold last night at a gala auction hosted by Stephen Fry and Melvyn Bragg.
Also on display is a video installation by Kate Moross incorporating many Bubbles designs. Beamed from three TV screens this powerful light-show is cut to Hawkwind’s live 1972 track Orgone Accumulator.
Ideal Home is at Chelsea Space, Chelsea College Of Art & Design, 16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU until October 22. Details here.
Postmodernism: Style & Subversion 1970-1990 is at the V&A, CRomwell Road, London SW7 2RL until January 15, 2012. Details here.
Mindful Of Art is the Old Vic Tunnels, Station Approach, London SE1 8SW until next Monday, September 26. Details here.
This year’s Glastonbury Festival will celebrate the work of Barney Bubbles, who created the extraordinary sleeve for the Glastonbury Fayre triple album set Revelations – A Musical Anthology.
Since 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the Fayre, Bubbles’ biographer Paul Gorman is staging two events at the Festival’s Spirit Of 71 Cafe to mark the late graphic designer’s involvement with the album, the festival and many of the performers who have played there.
This 100-second career resume has been created by Lisa Whitaker, who is currently studying graphics at Leeds College of Art.
The DVD – housed in an “inside-out” sleeve and accompanied by a poster – came out of a course brief for a collection of 100 design objects in which she compiled album sleeves, including Bubbles’ design for Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello And The Attractions.
“I am fascinated by this talented man and his links to other creative people,” says Whitaker. “My moving image piece Barney Bubbles Inside Out pulls together the research and is aimed at graphic designers, record collectors and music lovers as a way of spreading the word about inspirational figure.”
Whitaker’s backgrounder on the project is here.
It was a pleasure to take tea in Soho last week with John Muggeridge, Barney Bubbles’ friend and colleague at Conran and Teenburger Designs.
Muggeridge has long been a resident of Bolivia, and his visits to the old country are rare. This didn’t, of course, hinder his contributions to Reasons To Be Cheerful, but it was fab finally to meet the man credited on Quintessence’s In Blissful Company as J. Moonman (he and Bubbles contributed the album design including a 12-page booklet).
12″x12″. Page 5, booklet, In Blissful Company, Quintessence, Island Records, 1969.
Page 6, in Blissful Company booklet.
Page 7, In Blissful Company booklet.
Page 8, In Blissful Company booklet.
Page 9, In Blissful Company booklet.
Page 10, In Blissful Company booklet.
Booklet detail: Muggeridge-inscribed lyrics for the track Ganga Mai.
A graduate of the London College Of Printing, Muggeridge joined Conran’s design department in 1966, where he worked with Bubbles (then the company’s senior graphic designer going by his birth name, Colin Fulcher).
As described in Jonathan Aitken’s 1967 book The Young Meteors, the Conran studio was at that point at the cutting edge of the global design business, with 35 employees at its offices in Hanway Place, central London.
Muggeridge became Bubbles’ assistant when the designer launched Teenburger from 307 Portobello Road in the spring of 1969, and worked with him on a run of record sleeve designs, as well as pitches for the opening sequence credits for two or three films.
“The only one I can remember was Women In Love,” says Muggeridge, who has a clear memory of himself and Bubbles sat in an otherwise empty Soho screening room viewing a rough-cut of Ken Russell’s movie. Their proposal didn’t make the cut.
Having studied calligraphy at LCP, Muggeridge’s Teenburger responsibilities included hand-lettering; his italics adorn the In Blissful Company credits.
“I was really Barney’s apprentice,” says Muggeridge, these days involved in the food business. “It was amazing to watch him apply concepts. Ideas emerged fully-formed on the drawing board. Quite often we would work together silently in the studio; there wasn’t a great deal of talk. We just got on with it, while US draft dodgers and all sorts of people traipsed up and down the stairs outside.”
12″ x 12″. Front, Cressida, Vertigo, released February 1970.
12″ x 24in. Inner gatefold, Cressida.
12″ x 12″. Front, Red Dirt, Fontana Records, released April 1970.
Back, Red Dirt.
12″ x 12″. Front, Gracious!, Vertigo, released August 1970.
12″ x 24″. Inner gatefold, Gracious!.
In 1970 Muggeridge was laid low by peritonitis and, after recuperation in Ireland, embarked on the hippie trail with his girlfriend Virginia Clive-Smith (who had also worked with Bubbles at Conran), by which time Teenburger had closed.
During our conversation at Patisserie Valerie, the performance artist Bishi approached us. She had just been one of the crowd of 50 contributing silence to the anti-X Factor single 4’33″ in a nearby studio, and was intrigued by our conversation and the RTBC cover.
There ensued a fantastic cultural exchange: Muggeridge talked about the Barney Bubbles Light Show, which was inspired by a visit he and Bubbles made to UFO while working on an all-night job at Conran, while Bishi enthused about the work of contemporary light-show designers.
She has been performing in Nicholas Immaculate’s “Hindu Tron” suit, which helps her control light and sound by voice and movements.
Muggeridge was delighted. “I’m sure Barney would have approved,” he said.
On a sunny morning a few days before the visit from the Kingston students, Chelsea Space director Donald Smith and Sandra Higgins of The Chelsea Arts Club arranged an extremely agreeable private view of Process.
This was followed by lunch and a chat about Barney Bubbles’ legacy, with input from some of his closest friends. Also contributing was artist Jim Latter, who knew Barney Bubbles via Quintessence; Latter had been a typographer who gave it all up to throw in his lot with the band as their tour manager, working with Bubbles when he put on light shows for Quintessence at venues such as Notting Hill’s All Saints Hall.
Latter sometimes stayed at Bubbles’ creative commune 307 Portobello Road. “I remember our conversations revolved around typography and geometric abstraction,” says Latter. As exclusively revealed in the new edition of Reasons To Be Cheerful (out this month), Bubbles himself received a strong grounding in typography at rigorous commercial art studio Michael Tucker + Associates in the early 60s.
Latter moved on to run the gallery at another legendary London venue where Bubbles worked his light show, The Roundhouse, before returning to fine art. Latter’s work continues to betray his proccupation in the subject matter of those conversations more than 40 years ago.
“What’s fascinating for me about the exhibition is that it shows Barney also never lost his interest in those topics; in fact the later artwork is all about that,” says Latter. “What a wonderful testament to a wonderful guy.”
Last night’s full-moon private view for Process was quite a wing-ding; the great and the good were out in force, with Kate Moross and her crew VJing to a psychedelic/punk/prog/folk/whassat? soundtrack of music for which Barney Bubbles designed.
Jerry Dammers, Jeff Dexter, Nick Lowe, Mick Jones, Jake Riviera and Jah Wobble are just a few of the legends who dropped by to have a sticky-beak.
What would Barney have thought? “He’d have run a mile, but would have loved it,” said Nick Lowe.
Virginia Clive-Smith, who worked with Barney Bubbles in Conran’s design department when he was Colin Fulcher, wholeheartedly agreed, and Paul Conroy, whose association with the designer started with the Kursaal Flyers’ Chocs Away has just written: “Barney would be embarrassed…but secretly very proud.”
A pleasurable introduction yesterday to the legendary Jim Haynes at the Chelsea Arts Club affords publication of this shot of Barney Bubbles in the midst of operating his slide projection light show at the Drury Lane Arts Lab in autumn 1967.
Haynes’ establishment of this space for mixed media performance and experimental theatre in September that year triggered a new phase in the development of the arts in Britain.
Soon a network of arts labs sprang up (one launched by the young David Bowie – who had performed his mime show at Drury Lane – in the back of The Three Tuns pub in Beckenham, Kent).
Drury Lane is the place where the Barney Bubbles Light Show came into being. The photograph of Barney Fulcher (as he was styled then) with ink-stained hands and heavy duty projectors was taken by his Conran design department colleague Stafford Cliff.
It shows the 25-year-old graphic designer on the cusp of adopting his new persona and stepping out into a mind-expanding future, taking the light show around other such underground venues as Middle Earth and The Roundhouse.
Jim is in the UK for participation in the Edinburgh Festival; of course his relationship with the city goes back many decades. These days he’s also known for the delightful Sunday dinners he has thrown at his Paris atelier for the past 30 years.